Corner responsibilities against triple option

While the triple option is a run-based offensive scheme, that doesn't mean that a defense's cornerbacks can take the day off. When BYU plays Georgia Tech this Saturday, the Cougar corners will have to fulfill their specific assignments if BYU is to be successful.

The 3-4 defensive scheme is well suited for the triple option attack, which allows cornerbacks to focus on their coverage assignments more.

However, according to Preston Hadley, the cornerbacks have to read different keys than they're used to when going up against a triple option team.

"We just got to get good run-pass reads from the offensive line," said cornerback Preston Hadley. "There are certain reads you can get from them and from the receivers. We have to be clued into what the receivers are doing too – if they're going to try and crack down on the safety and be a lead blocker."

While Georgia Tech runs the triple option, the Yellow Jackets pass more than, say, BYU's old nemesis Air Force.

"They still throw the ball for 180 [yards] a game, so we can't fall asleep out there," Hadley said. "We might not be as involved in the run as I would like, but there will still be some involvement."

There is a tendency for the triple option to lull a secondary to sleep, especially when the option is having success and cornerbacks have to become more involved in run defense. The offense will then pass over the top of the safeties in a man-zone coverage.

"Yeah, Coach Howell talked to us about that," said Hadley. "Again, it comes down to discipline and we have to be [disciplined], especially against a team like this. All it takes is just one play. I mean, we can do a great job in defending the triple option, and then they have that one play over the top and it goes for a touchdown."

The receivers in the triple option do various things in order to create confusion. It's a tough challenge for the secondary to sort it all out.

"Yeah, it depends on the play and which way the play is coming," Hadley said. "If the play is going away from you, they can either be a decoy or they will try and cut block you. So, we'll be working on that this week. It just depends on the receiver. They'll do both sometimes and some will try and run you off and some will try and block you. I'm up for it though."

Until recently, BYU was accustomed to facing a triple option attack every year while in the Mountain West Conference. While the Cougars don't play Air Force anymore as an independent, the defense nevertheless has learned from BYU's history against the Falcons.

"Yeah, Coach Mendenhall showed us a little bit of our old Air Force film," Hadley said. "When you're playing any triple option team you have to play your assignment and play very disciplined too."

In the run game, the 3-4 defense is designed to funnel everything inside towards the safety as the last line of run defense. If the linebackers aren't able to make the play, the safeties become the primary run-stoppers. Against Notre Dame, BYU's safeties struggled at times to make the tackle and cover the cutback angles.

With the extra pitch available to the wing back in the triple option, it's absolutely vital that safety play be top-notch.

"It depends on the play really," said Hadley regarding who will be the last line of defense. "Primarily it will be the safety, and so it could either be Daniel [Sorensen], Joe [Sampson] or Craig [Bills] depending on which way the play is coming. Sometimes it will be the corner too based on formation."

There will be an equal responsibility placed on the shoulders of both Sampson and Sorensen to stop the run and take care of pitch-man responsibilities.

"Yeah, it will depend on which way the flow of the play is," said Hadley. "They could run to the boundary, so it will be the free safety's responsibility to make the play, and if the play goes to the field it will be the strong safety that has to come up. But, yeah, with our defense everything is designed to funnel down to the Kat, but this week it's going to be a little more balanced based on which way it's going."

To give the Cougar defense a good look at the triple option, the scout team got a new quarterback this week.

"The quarterback has to do a good job and that's the main thing," Hadley said. "They pulled Alex Kuresa over from the offense to run that. He's a real mobile, quick guy and I think he'll give us a good look this week."

Hadley's keys

The triple option of Georgia Tech will test BYU's defensive secondary on many levels.

"We just have to read our keys and everyone has to be able to tackle," Hadley said. "We can't get cut and have to take on the cut blocks effectively and just run to the ball. We're going to make mistakes, but as long as we play hard we'll be able to make up for that with hard play."

Jordan Johnson

Field side cornerback Jordan Johnson talked to the media and gave his thoughts on the upcoming game against Georgia Tech.


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